I reside in the geographical confines of what is currently known as Canada on land that is home to the Neutral, Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe peoples. The treaties of this land include the Haldimand Treaty* and Treaty 3. I want to acknowledge, with pride, my ancestry as a Sikh woman from Punjab, while also acknowledging that I have grown up in what is currently Canada almost all of my life. I often reflect upon the honour of both being a woman of colour, and importantly of being someone who sees, experiences & interacts with the world using a neurodiverse view. I see my severe ADHD diagnosis in adulthood as something that has offered me clarity towards the unique struggles I've encountered in my life, within a world that is not built to accommodate my neurodivergence. Moreover, I also see this intrinsic part of me as a superpower that enables me to be a passion-driven, dynamic, quick and immensely creative intellectual. As an academic and as a community organizer, I recognize the duty I have to offer representation for others that share my intersections of identities. I find strength in using my lived experiences to inform my activism practice, and I find healing in maintaining connections to my ancestral roots.
I want to acknowledge privileges I have, of both my access to post secondary education, and being able to volunteer my time to a multitude of causes. There are many voices, namely of my Black, Indigenous and South Asian peers, that go unheard because they are working, living and thriving as best they can, in a world that doesn’t guarantee liveable wages, income, gender or racial equity, nor social security in all forms. While I am thankful to be given a platform, I do not intend on speaking on behalf of Black or Indigenous communities, nor communities of colour in general. My only goal is to use opportunities such as these to help the cause in the best way I can, which is through the education and empowerment of others, with knowledge that will allow them to become meaningful allies.
I move through this space guided by the practice of centring community voices and commit to continuing my own learning alongside these efforts, always. Working in the realm of advocacy for the health and wellbeing of all that inhabit Turtle Island, I recognize (and work to engage others in the idea) that we cannot fix a problem that has its roots this deep in colonization without first decolonizing our practices as researchers, educators and advocates. I lead by encouraging non-Indigenous allies that wish to help, to actively take up less space where we can, and offer more to the collective recovery of the land and all its peoples, as we are all treaty peoples. I continue to vocally and visibly support any initiatives that aid us in moving closer towards a collective liberation from oppressive systems.
*On 25 October 1784, Sir Frederick Haldimand, the governor of Québec, signed a decree that granted a tract of land to the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois), also known as the Six Nations, for their alliance with the British during the American Revolution. The proclamation stated that he permitted them to “for ever” enjoy this land. However, this forever he mentioned only lasted 57 years, as by 1841 the lands “permitted” to the Six Nations’ diminished from approximately 950,000 acres to 46,000 acres, and the community was left with less than 5% of the original Haldimand Tract (source). This is shameful.